Educating young and old

UW–Madison’s commitment to teaching and learning transcends the traditional barriers of age, distance and time. The university has embraced a growing movement in higher education to open doors to students of all ages, with many programs designed specifically to engage pre-college students, working professionals and retired people. Many programs are geared toward helping underserved populations experience the life-changing benefits of higher education. And access has become a 24–7 proposition, thanks to the growth of high-quality online degree options at UW–Madison.

Partnering to improve public education: Each year, more than 700 educators in K–12 education schools partner with the School of Education to give its future teachers those real-world classroom experiences that are so critical to teacher preparation. This partnership includes a unique collaboration with eight Madison schools that offers practicing educators an opportunity to grow professionally while they are preparing student teachers to succeed in culturally diverse urban schools.

Training technology’s future: The DoIT Information Technology Academy is taking talented high school students from underserved backgrounds and transforming them into high-tech pioneers. Students who graduate from this rigorous four-year program are eligible for four-year tuition scholarships to UW–Madison. The program has been a resounding success, with 99% of students being accepted to post-secondary institutions by the time they leave high school.

Spanning generations: Grandparents University enables attendees to turn back the clock and return to college life, with their grandchildren in tow. The program allows grandparents and grandchildren (ages 7–14) to create memories and earn “degrees” through hands-on learning activities covering everything from lake research to rocket science.

Local culture tour: Twenty-six K–12 education teachers from around Wisconsin joined UW–Madison faculty and students on an eight-day tour, getting a firsthand look at the cultural richness of the state. Their journey took them from Madison to the shores of Lakes Superior and Michigan, stopping along the way in Muscoda, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Drummond, Bayfield, Ashland, Lac du Flambeau, Rhinelander, Door County and Wales.

Learning for life: Taking a wide variety of lifelong learning classes is now easier for Madison-area residents over age 50. The UW–Madison Continuing Studies Senior Learning Program provides intellectually stimulating, noncredit classes to Madison area lifelong learners age 50 and older, placing emphasis on learning for the joy of learning.

Expanding opportunity: UW–Madison’s commitment to access for Wisconsin students took big steps forward in recent years. The Connections Program offers any student all of the University of Wisconsin Colleges two-year campuses along with many of the four-year campuses and several technical and tribal colleges guaranteed admission when they meet academic requirements after two years.

Fulfilling the college dream: PEOPLE, a program that partners UW–Madison with Wisconsin public schools, is identifying academically promising students from culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, giving them the ongoing support to succeed in college. More than 1,300 students are in some part of the PEOPLE pipeline, and 94 percent of graduates enroll in higher education.

Breaking down biotech: Thousands of children across Wisconsin have learned to “do DNA” through the Wisconsin BioTrek program at the UW–Madison Biotechnology Center. The program introduces students to the power and promise of biotechnology through fun, hands-on exercises, such as extracting DNA from a plant.

Helping gifted kids soar: College for Kids offers a challenging learning experience for highly motivated students entering sixth grade. More than 35 school districts contribute to this three-week program, which allows students to interact with peers, and encourages team building, and creative thinking and problem-solving.

Teacher advancement: A master’s program for Professional Educators gives practicing teachers an advancement opportunity that fits their professional schedule. Participants become part of a two-year learning group and complete an educational psychology degree through a combination of computerized distance learning and summer on-campus coursework.

Speaking the language: More than 90 percent of students in the United States who study a foreign language choose French, German or Spanish — leaving a world of languages out in the cold.  The UW–Madison Language Institute helps teachers in Wisconsin buck the trend through an online training in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian, Japanese and Russian. The institute also takes the effort directly to students during the annual World Languages Day, which attracts more than 600 Wisconsin students.

Preschool literacy: The School of Human Ecology sponsors a service-learning program aimed at helping economically disadvantaged preschoolers get a “jump start” on kindergarten, while giving college students experience in the classroom. The Jumpstart program aligns college students with children, ages 3–5 years old, for a one-to-one learning experience through reading and in-depth discussion that helps children to develop language and social skills.

Lyrical language: Whether spoken aloud or written, words carry power. UW–Madison has a special class for teachers and youth services personnel, most from Madison and Milwaukee, on harnessing the might of spoken words and enlisting the talents of spoken-word poets and hip-hop artists in the classroom. It has proven to be a powerful social tool for students.

Engineering excellence: The Master’s in Engineering Professional Practice (MEPP) program was a national trailblazer in removing barriers for working professionals seeking to advance their careers. Students take MEPP courses online — anytime and anywhere — and develop the leadership tools to take them to the next level. The Sloan Consortium ranked MEPP No. 1 in the nation.